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Reaching the incredible mark of 500,000 sold copies of his first single and 700,000 copies of his first LP, Ritchie is also important in the evolution of Brazilian music that was conducive to the Brazilian rock style of the '80s. The son of a military officer, Ritchie lived in Kenya until he was two; he began to sing Schubert and Britten in a church in Germany and also lived in Denmark, Italy, and South Yemen. In 1971, he joined the pop-folk group Everyone Involved, which had 27 members. The group was formed with the sole objective of protesting against a viaduct over Piccadilly Circus in London. They recorded an LP, called Either/Or, and during that recording, Ritchie became friends with guitarist Mike Klein's Brazilian pals Lúcia Turnbull, Rita Lee, and Arnolpho Lima (Liminha, the then-bassist for Os Mutantes and future choice producer of Brazilian pop/rock). Ritchie became an Os Mutantes enthusiast and soon got a Brazilian girlfriend, in whose home in Rio he arrived at in September 1972. In a sound check for the band for the 7th International Song Festival (FIC) in Maracanãzinho that same day, Ritchie became stricken with the performance of Raul Seixas and decided to stay in Brazil. But the affair with the Carioca girl finished in the next week and Ritchie, without a place to live, accompanied the Os Mutantes to São Paulo, where they lived. In that city, he formed the band Escaladácida, with Azael Rodrigues, Sérgio Kaffa, and Fábio Gasparini. The band was bound to record for Continental in 1973 when it was dissolved. At that point, Ritchie was married to Carioca Leda Zucarelli, so a return to Rio was an obvious choice. There, he taught English to make a living, and took flute classes with Brazilian virtuoso Paulo Moura. The next step was the progressive band A Barca do Sol, which also was the first important project for future values of MPB, like Jaques Morelembaum. Joining the group as a flutist, he wanted to sing, but the other members were against it because of his strong British accent. Frustrated, he left the group, but was soon approached by his former acquaintances Lulu Santos and Luiz Paulo Simas, with whom he formed the group Vímana, an important link for Brazilian rock between the seminal Os Mutantes and the blossoming style of the '80s. In 1978, the band was dissolved and Ritchie returned to his English classes, finding a job at Berlitz. In the following year, he recorded a demo tape with Jim Capaldi (former Traffic drummer). In 1980, Capaldi asked him to be the producer of his solo album Let the Thunder Cry. Ritchie went to London, where produced the album, which was crowded with talents: drummer Andy Newmark, saxophonist Mel Collins, percussionist Reebop Kwaku-Baah, and drummer Simon Kirke (from Free).
Back in Brazil, Ritchie began to put together a repertory with Bernardo Vilhena (the same who put lyrics to Vímana's songs). They wrote 15 songs in a short time and Inácio Machado sponsored a demo tape recorded at the Warner basement in Rio, with Lobão, Liminha, Zé Luiz (saxophonist in the early formations of Blitz), Mayrton Bahia, and guitarist Steve Hackett (a former Genesis member married to a Brazilian woman). The songs recorded were "Vôo de Coração" and "Baby, meu Bem." The next day, Warner producer Fernando Adour listened to the songs and showed the tape to CBS, which was looking for a new band in the Blitz style. On that very day, Cláudio Condé phoned to hire him. The first single, "Menina Veneno," a strongly commercial pop ballad, was released in February 1983 and scored a hit in the Northeast right away. With a strong marketing plan devised by CBS, "Menina Veneno" sold 500,000 copies and the LP Vôo de Coração sold 700,000. The album had the above three songs, and two other hits, "Pelo Interfone" and "Casanova" (which had the additional impulse of having been inserted in the soundtrack of the Champagne soap opera for TV Globo). The second LP, E a Vida Continua, released in 1984, sold 100,000 copies and the third, Circular, less than 100,000. Under an assumption that CBS was putting aside his work to not challenge its relationship with its biggest star, singer/composer Roberto Carlos (an assumption confirmed in a 1986 Tim Maia interview for Isto É magazine), Ritchie left CBS with their surprising consent (he was contractually to record another album) for Polygram. Without a repertory for the new task, he showed "Transas" (by Paulinho Lima, his manager, with Nico Resende) to Polygram producer Mariozinho Rocha (who had produced As Aventuras da Blitz for EMI-Odeon). Rocha bet on the song, including it on the Rede Globo soap opera Roda de Fogo, which propelled the single's selling to the mark of 100,000 copies. The following LP, Loucura & Mágica (June 1987), though, sold only 25,000 copies. But at the same time, his live shows with the old hits always packed houses. Believing in his capacity to overcome a bad phase, Ritchie recorded the LP Pra Ficar Contigo (1988), which sold only 13,000 copies. Taking two years to build a comeback, together with keyboardist William Forghieri (former Gang-90 and Blitz), Ritchie finally released his sixth album in 1990, Sexto Sentido. A complete failure, it sold only six thousand copies in spite of two good songs, "Eu e Meu Rádio" and "Obsessão." After the fiasco, Ritchie would only record in 1993 with the band Tigres de Bengala, which had Forghieri, the former A Cor do Som members Dadi and Mu, Vinícius Cantuária, and Cláudio Zoli; it was also without success. In 1995, "Menina Veneno" reached the apex of its popularity in a recording by the sertanejo duo Zezé di Camargo e Luciano.
Richard David Court
06 March 1952 in Beckenham, Kent, England
'70s, '80s, '90s, '00s